Impulse is a community newsletter produced by the Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology (NCSPP) and distributed electronically at no cost to subscribers. We envision Impulse as an integrative source for local news, events, and thinking of interest to the psychoanalytically inclined. Our goal is to be your guide as you explore the Bay Area's rich array of analytic resources.

We invite you to become a member of NCSPP, if you are not already. And, we welcome you as a subscriber to Impulse. Join us as we highlight the exceptional diversity of psychoanalytic thought and practice in Northern California.

by Danni Biondini, LMFT

My seatmate knocked over my cup of valerian root tea as soon as we boarded the plane. That, plus my $1.50 inflatable neck pillow from Daiso, were my ticket to getting some sleep on my red eye flight to Philadelphia. Alas, I slept an hour, but emerged on the East Coast excited to register for two days of the Division 39 (“Society for Psychoanalysis & Psychoanalytic Psychology”) conference. 

I accidentally overpaid.

Getting to the hotel that morning, I was underslept and confounded by the pay structure for registrants. I weighed the possibility of simply sneaking into panels, unregistered, before I remembered the existence of the superego. I resignedly paid the full fee, despite having some sense that it wasn’t the right fee for me. Later, a friend pointed out that I qualified for the much-lower Early Career Clinician price. I was refunded the difference, but this little bungled action thrust my emotions right into the middle of the divide at Division 39: the division between the old guard and the new. The split between those who can pay full price and those who request a different entry fee to become part of the community.

by Amber Trotter, Psy.D.


In a panel titled, “Losing Our White Minds” at this year’s Division 39, Dr. Diane Swirsky asserted that therapists should raise issues of bias, privilege, and social justice, even when not raised by patients. Therapists of all races should be talking about racism with patients of all races. This suggests that analytic therapists’ values should manifest in treatment. If we believe that racism is wrong, for example, we should respond from that position. In contrast to classical neutrality, this redefines the analyst as a kind of activist.

Of course, as a theory of health and sanity, suffering and healing, psychoanalysis ineluctably engages sociopolitical and moral questions. Ethical conundrums such as the nature and extent of conscious reason, freedom, and responsibility permeate our field.

In her paper for the same panel, Dr. Lani Chow suggested a second kind of activism for analytic practitioners: putting ourselves on the proverbial couch. If Whiteness is understood as the status quo, hierarchy, and privilege derived from structural and historical dynamics, then “losing our white minds” involves persistent interrogation of established ideas and ways of being—including within our field, and within our own minds. It involves deliberate attentiveness to the negated and marginalized.

by Molly Merson, LMFT

Masters, Slaves and Object Relations. A take on object relations that speaks to how we may confront our internal, racialized objects as we confront racism and white supremacy.

Do therapists have a duty to confront climate change denial? This article would like to point out that there is climate change going on (a la Winnicott).

Understanding Donald Trump’s Twitter rants takes Freudian psychology. This article names several occasions in which Trump’s critics have utilized psychoanalytic descriptors to analyze the pathology present in the President’s actions and language.

by Asya Grigorieva, Ph.D.


The Education Committee strives to develop programming that represents the intellectual diversity of contemporary psychoanalytic psychology, the diversity of therapists and clients, and the expansion of psychoanalytic theory and practice. Our courses take place in San Francisco and the East Bay, and are available to all NCSPP members and to the larger community. Courses meet the continuing education credit requirements for LCSWs and MFTs through the BBS (Provider #PCE508) and for psychologists through Division 39 of APA.

If you are interested in teaching a class, please click here to submit your course proposal:

We are especially eager to receive proposals that address racial, cultural, and other types of diversity, and those that explore topics that are usually not addressed in graduate programs (e.g., working with couples, adolescents, infants, and pregnant people, utilizing material from client’s use of psychedelics).

Proposals for 2019-2020 will be accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis and are due by September 30th, 2019. Decisions will be delivered by November/December, 2019. If you have questions, please contact the Education Chair, Asya Grigorieva, Ph.D., at or at 415-629-8909.

Appointment Book: 

Symposium – Facing the Death Object
Wed, May 1 / 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm / 530 Bush St. / San Francisco
PINC / (415) 288-4050 / J. Durban, Ph.D.; P. Mandel, Ph.D. / $10 - $45

The Sense of Home, Homelessness and Nowhere-ness
Sat, May 4 / 9:00 am - 3:00 pm / 2299 Piedmont Ave. / Berkeley
PINC / (415) 288-4050 / J. Durban, Ph.D.; J. Sekoff, Ph.D. / $60 - $200

Poetry & Psychoanalysis: A Program on Protest Poems
Sat, May 4 / 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm / 444 Natoma St. / San Francisco
SFCP / (415) 563-3366 / F. Hamer, Ph.D., et al. / free

Kirkland Vaughans Reading Group
Sun, May 5 / 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm / 1375 55th St. / Emeryville
NCSPP / (510) 593-8432 / Y. Hachiuma, LMFT; P. Kim, LMFT / free

Ferenczi Lost and Found: Working with the Rumble of Trauma
Tue, May 7 (begins) / 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm / 530 Bush St. / San Francisco
PINC / (415) 288-4050 / D. Liebowitz, LCSW / $100 - $220

From There to “Hear”: Translation in the Analytic Hour
Fri, May 10 / 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm / 530 Bush St. / San Francisco
PINC / (415) 288-4050 / A. Zawadzki / free - $40

"You Wouldn't Understand": 'Low Cultures' with Adolescents\
Sat, May 11 / 9:00 am - 1:00 pm / 530 Bush St. / San Francisco
NCSPP / (415) 857-4885 / L. Kwok, Psy.D.; D Cushman, Psy.D. / $60 - $140

The Loss & Restoration of Instinct
Sat, May 11 / 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm / 1672 University Ave. / Berkeley
The Dream Institute / (510) 845-1767 / M. Sabini, Ph.D. / $75 for 3 CEs / $35-55 general

Psychoanalysis as a Creative, Emotional Play-Space
Mon, May 13 / 7:30 pm - 9:30 am / 444 Natoma St. / San Francisco
SFCP / (415) 563-3366 / S. Coen, M.D; J.Wallis, LCSW / free

32nd Annual Lecture: A Day with Kirkland Vaughans, Ph.D.
Sat, May 18 / 9:00 am - 4:00 pm / 2150 Alston Way / Berkeley
NCSPP / (415) 786-7961 / K. Vaughans, Ph.D., et al. / $40 - $250